Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays

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Internationally celebrated nature writer Candace Savage presents the Corvid family-- surprisingly bright, brassy, and colorful birds--in a remarkable collection of full-color, close-up photographs by some of the world's best wildlife photographers.

Birds have long been viewed as the archetypal featherbrains--beautiful but dumb. But according to naturalist Candace Savage, "bird brain," as a pejorative expression, should be rendered obsolete by new research on the family of corvids: crows and their close relations.

The ancients who regarded these remarkable birds as oracles, bringers of wisdom, or agents of vengeance were on the right track, for corvids appear to have powers of abstraction, memory, and creativity that put them on a par with many mammals, even higher primates. Bird Brains presents these bright, brassy, and surprisingly colorful birds in a remarkable collection of full-color, close-up photographs by some two dozen of the world's best wildlife photographers.

Savage's lively, authoritative text describes the life and behavior of sixteen representative corvid species that inhabit North America and Europe. Drawing on recent research, she describes birds that recognize each other as individuals, call one another by "name," remember and relocate thousands of hidden food caches, engage in true teamwork and purposeful play, and generally exhibit an extraordinary degree of sophistication.


"Savage's hypnotic, intimate lens takes us so close to these birds we can count the feathers on their stomachs, peer down the huge red gullets of their chicks and marvel at their talky, squawky, wondrously communicative throats and beaks." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"With powerful photographic documentation naturalist Candace Savage examines the lives and behaviors of the highly intelligent corvid family." -- Sierra

"Here is an excellent gathering of intelligence, expert opinion and bird observations, with color photos creating a lavish backdrop.'-- Bookwatch

"A thoughtful and generous -celebration of minds and bodies different from our own, and of the people who have tried to open our eyes to the extraordinary things they can do."--Times Literary Supplement

"A view of the human predicament that is hilarious, sobering and profound."-- Globe and Mail

"Only a few writers have such a deep life experience as Brian Brett, and we can be grateful that he's sharing it with us--his humour, his grief, his all-embracing vibrancy, as well as his sharp look at himself and at humankind in general."--Jenny Erpenbeck, author of The End of Days

"Tuco is a jester, and we're charmed throughout."-- Quill and Quire

"A wonderful gyre of a journey into the mind of man and bird, Tuco is an avian feast of astounding nuggets, tales, and insights. It is also a deep meditation on our place in time and nature: moving, funny, personal yet universal."-- Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress

"Viewing Brian Brett's animal-haunted life through his eyes is a most unusual pleasure." -- Graeme Gibson, author of The Bedside Book of Birds

Candace Savage is the author of more than two dozen books, including A Geography of Blood, which won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, and Crows: Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World.

Greystone Books

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

0.5" H x 9.9" L x 9.7" W 

152 pages